Vol. 6, No. 16
Daughters of Mary Commentary
20 December 2016
Luke 2: 15-20
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news. Announcing salvation and saying to Zion, ‘Your God is King!’” (Isaiah 52:7)
The Christmas readings for this Sunday are different for every Mass! If you read all of them, you will get a rich telling of the Feast of the Nativity! For our gathering as Daughters of Mary, we are reading the Gospel from Christmas morning from Luke, because it tells of Mary as she pondered what the shepherds told her as she held her newborn Savior. I would like to take this idea of “pondering” as our overriding reflection of these Christmas readings, but I would like to incorporate all of the readings in our reflection.
As the first reading from Isaiah on Christmas Eve proclaims, “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet…”(Is. 62:1) Can you just imagine Christmas Eve in Bethlehem! All of creation has been anticipating this night. The Savior is to be born! The Word is to be Incarnate! All of creation is ringing out in anticipation and joy. The earth cries out, the animals are roused to wonder. The stars in the heavens shine brightly. The angels cannot contain themselves as they consume the sky over Bethlehem, proclaiming the Good News to the shepherds in the fields! It was truly a glorious night!
The poor shepherds were charged with proclaiming the Good News of the Savior’s birth, just as the three Wise, wealthy kings were charged with proclaiming that the Word became Man. How Glorious was this day. How incredible is this feast. And in the middle of it all we see Our Blessed Mother pondering all that is happening. As the Gospel of Luke says, “All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting [pondering] on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.” Luke 2:18-20
Mary pondered. She tucked all of these things away in her heart and pondered. Not what they would mean for her or for Joseph. Or for what she should do next. She pondered them for how God’s glory would be revealed. She was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would bear a son, Emmanuel, God with us. She knew she was giving birth to the Savior of the world. The Savior, she as a good Jew had longed for. She knew as the Prophet Simeon told her at Jesus’ baptism that a sword of sorrow would pierce her heart. She knew this child would bring salvation to all. And she pondered. As she watched this infant child grow, as she lost him for three days in the temple in Jerusalem, as she requested he take care of the wedding guests at Cana, as she met him on the way of the cross on Calvary, as she stood at the foot of the Cross watching him suffer, as she held his lifeless body in her arms at the foot of the Cross, as she buried him in the tomb, she pondered. How would God’s glory be revealed through this Child of hers, this Child Divine.
She pondered through her sorrows. She pondered through the miracles. She pondered as a mother who enjoys the simple, tender moments of mother and son. How would God’s glory be revealed through this Divine Child.
As we celebrate this Feast of the Nativity and continue forward through this Season of Christmas, we are people of this promise. God has become Man. The Word has become Incarnate. Salvation is born unto us this day. We are called to live in this promise. We are called to ponder this promise. Through our life as Catholics, through our path to holiness, we are to ponder “How is God’s glory to be revealed in this moment?” Let us live this Christmas joy and let us ponder this in our walk with Christ! Have a blessed and merry Christmas!
I close with an excerpt from the “Homily on Christmas Morning” by St. John Chrysostom:
Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature.
For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.
What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infant’s bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness.
For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me.
Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.